Well, we finally did it… We, as a family, took the plunge into Homeschooling. After years of off and on research… Hours of pouring over various models and curricula… and constantly second-guessing myself… The High Roller and I decided that homeschooling the boys, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, would be our best option for this year.
Many factors figured into this leap of faith. For starters, we aren’t thrilled with the public school system in our county, and with four children, private school has become a seriously diminished option for our family. Fortunately, our area has a very large homeschooling community that’s growing by the day (greatly impacted by the aforementioned factors) with tons of extracurricular activities, and options for frequent peer interaction. On a more personal note, I want to spend more time with my kids during these rapidly fleeting years of them actually wanting to be around me. Since the High Roller and I have made decisions as a couple, financially, that have made it possible for me to be home with them, I feel like spending this special time with them is something I should maximize. YES there are days (even without homeschooling them, I’ve had all four of them home with me all day, all summer long) that I want to run screaming from the house (and have a stiff drink when the High Roller gets home) I would still much rather have them around than not. As a person (and a writer) I still need chunks of quiet time to unplug and work uninterrupted, so we are working on how to insure that I get that… If I’m not taking are of myself, I can’t do them or the High Roller or anyone else justice. That being said, I also worry about my Bipolar issues rearing their ugly heads and rendering me useless… Granted I’ve always pushed through before to be a mom, but it’s agony to do that. Praying I will be equipped with the mental fortitude to thrive… For all of our sakes!
I’ve gone through countless curriculums and models of homeschooling over the past few years… Trying to decide what would work best for us… What wouldn’t burn us out or make us go crazy… What would give them a great foundation for life…and also what would leave them prepared to go back to traditional school if we decide that’s the choice that needs to be made later on. Finally, I settled on using Classical Conversations( I will explain in a moment) in addition to Saxon Math (a good, strong and thorough workbook-based program), and having them read a chapter of a chapter book daily. After they read their chapter, I quiz them on it, have them draw picture in their reading journal from that chapter and write a few sentences about it.
Now, about Classical Conversations…. A classical education focuses on the three stages of learning, otherwise known as the Trivium. The Grammar stage, which my children are currently in, focuses on memorization and giving kids the “building blocks” of learning. This stage goes until around 4th grade… At that point, when their minds are ready to work in a more analytical capacity, they enter the “Logic Stage”. In this period of time, kids start seeking to understand the “whys” of how things work…. The cause and effects of life. Around the beginning of high school, a student enters the “Rhetoric Stage”, by where they become accomplished at formulating their own oral and written arguments for the subject matter they have previously been taught. I love the classical model, because it works to train the mind to think…. I want my kids to be able to think for themselves as they go through life… It’s one of the most important gifts that I can give them. Classical Conversations is based in this model of learning, but places God at the center of all knowledge. As a Christian family, this is an important part of the equation for us. CC gives us the weekly Memory Work for each subject (Latin, English Grammar, Math Facts, Geography, History and Science) and I come up with various ways for us to work on the information… Like songs (tons of CC stuff on Pinterest and CC Connected) worksheets, crafts, extra books, videos… The possibilities are endless. We also memorize chunks of the CC Timeline each week, and it builds on the Timeline dates memorized from the week before. The CC Community meets once a week (we have 50 kids in our community this year!) so that the kids can work with tutors on reviewing the memory work, being introduced to the new memory work, do science labs/projects, art projects and enjoy peer interaction. The kids also do a presentation each week in front of their small age-specific class (around 8 kids) to learn the art of public speaking and work on the various skills needed. I was so in love with what is being offered, we decided to register the Princess (age 4, almost 5) because she was easily memorizing what I was prepping the boys on, and she’s already reading fluently. She will still attend K-4 the other 4 days of the week, but will go with us to CC on Tuesdays. I’m printing out age appropriate sheets for all three of them, but the cool thing is that they are all learning the same subject matter on the CC stuff… So we all review together, and I’m blown away by what they’ve already learned one week in.
We had our first day of CC community yesterday, and I chose to stay with Butch Cassidy’s class (my almost 8 year old) because he’s the youngest in his class and I wanted to make sure he behaved. He and the other 7 boys in his class (his poor teacher!) did a great job and had lots of fun… He was disappointed that we couldn’t go back today and is looking forward to next week. They began with a science experiment on the persistence of vision, and she began teaching them the Scientific Method. In Latin, they learned 4 prepositions and their translations. In Geography they learned 5 states’ abbreviations, map locations and capitals. In Science, they learned the 4 types of tissue in the human body. In History they learned about Columbus and memorized the weekly History sentence on that. In Grammar they learned the definition of an infinitive….. And all three of my kids can already tell me the answers when I quiz them on these (most of the time).
I’m scared, nervous, excited, and so much more all at once about homeschooling this year…. Scared I won’t be able to handle it or won’t teach them enough, nervous that they won’t respond to what I’m giving them and excited that I have the opportunity to do this. I will be updating periodically about our adventures!